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WHAT CLEAVES      

I do not know the sea-sound well,
I do not know the the slap of it
that beats the caulk
from the seams of the bobbing dory.

Where I am we've no fog,
some few gulls,
and an open winter
that dries as if it lived within our mouths.

Each of the other asking,
we live to ask who sleeps on the water.
We care for the stones of that god's house
and the god of it who grants us green
a little of each year.

We repeat the prayers we learned
before we reached the age that shuts prayers out.
Father, Mother, measures of an ocean out of sight
are present in our blood.

The foreign pleasure of the sea
can round against our heads.
Some calling of it tears and leads
our lives to water and away,
leads us lost from patience
and the gold-struck grass.

I forget where I'll sleep tonight,
the names of the stars that box
the trouble of my wandering dreams.

I'll sleep in the hand of a slur-shored sea,
hard on the ribs of a little boat,
hard singing, hard asleep, and me.

      — Scott Murphy


Hear Scott Murphy read 'What Cleaves'